Speak Up

Friday, March 21, 2008

From Ohio to LA, NY to Newport

With my 25th birthday aprroaching in seven days I'm getting a bit serious and opening up with a brief totally abridged story of my life. Enjoy.

July 4th 1982 my parents’ lives changed forever. They got pregnant with a tiny baby girl born on March 28th, later to be known as the “perfect sister”. Though they were committed to me, my parents don’t care much for each other. My father: a conservative electrician retiree of the coal mines of central Ohio. My mother: a domestic engineer, mother of four and the best nurturer.

I was born in Zanesville, Ohio and lived between my parents with most of my time spent with my mother. As any good Ohio family we were and remain very close. Grandparents lived close and cousins were always best friends. I started kindergarten in Los Angeles where my mother lived with her new husband. My step dad: a PhD toting musician and composer and all around nice-guy. We lived in California for seventeen years acquiring three more siblings as the years past. We gained a dog, a pool, life long family friends and neighbors and in 2004 said our most painful goodbyes to the Golden State.

I had a normal life, keeping in mind that no one really has a normal life. We sometimes ate dinner at Costco, went to church in Malibu, and played 40 -man games of hide and go seek with the neighborhood kids. Of course that was after we moved to the San Fernando Valley. My mother made home-made piƱatas for birthday parties and our patio furniture was refurbished with fish-patterned plastic tablecloths. My step dad warmed up on our piano before going to work while we built legos and watched The Simpsons.

My siblings are much younger than me, now 18, 16, and 13 so I played a mother role to them that I’m still trying to kick. I love my brother and sisters and every time I visit them I’m impressed more and more by their independence and creativity. I can’t wait to watch them grow more.

I went to middle school and met my chef. I went to high school and dated my chef. I went to college and watched my chef leave for culinary school in New York. I went to California State University to become a teacher. I lived on my own with a lovely roommate whom I’ve been lucky enough to reconnect with after four years. All the time we lived in California my parents wanted to go back to Ohio. In 2004 they sold their house and I’ll never forget dropping my siblings off at the airport. I had never cried so hard and had my heart hurt so badly.

With my family gone and Erik on the east coast I decided California had nothing left to offer me. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family, but I just couldn’t be there without mine. So I moved to New York. Erik came back to Los Angeles for a few months then we drove to New York together with all we had packed in a Corolla and a Scion. We lived in upstate while Erik was a line cook. I finished my teaching education while coaching gymnastics- a passion of mine since I was 14.

2005 was a frightening and enlightening year. Erik and I got married in October which fell between the deaths of my grandfather and grandmother respectively. Some of the most meaning memories I have of my family are in the funeral home pouring over the photos of our lives and exchanging looks of astonishment as the line for the viewing spread into the other rooms. They were both amazing people with strong ties to Jesus, their family and community. They’re still with me.

As Erik moved up through the Jean Georges Empire we decided it was time to move on....up. We fell in love with the neighborhood of Newport in the waterfront district of Jersey City. It was the first time we felt like we “made it”. The whole time I was packing up the old dingy dark apartment with squirrels in the roof I couldn’t help singing the theme to The Jeffersons.

I’m grateful for my life now. Something I’ve always said, but never believed. I have a loving, supporting husband, a comfortable home, and a dear friend I couldn’t imagine being without. I work at an amazing school in a city that I love contributing to. I go home back to Ohio when I need. I laugh out loud with Jay Leno, savor afternoon snacks and adore this blog. Thank you for allowing me to have this outlet.



One Fat Chef said...

Your story is very touching. Thank you for sharing it with us!

Anonymous said...

This is an awesome post! It's great to learn more about you.


Hilary Battes said...

Thanks! It was actually hard to write, but when I finished I felt liberated and controlled all at the same time.

Anonymous said...

I love a happy ending. Enjoy the ride because it's all a ride.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post! Thank you for sharing so much about yourself with us other DCWs. We love ya!

Anonymous said...

I should have known. My younger brother and best friend are March 28th birthdays -my brother just a year before you. Great people, those Aries.

Your post was so sweet, and a good reminder of the good things in life. You're frequently an inspiration for those of us who have not quite accepted the role of the restaurant business in our families. You're much better adjusted than I am, that's for sure. Thanks for the positivity.

Anonymous said...


it was very sweet! thanks for sharing your life with all of us.